When developing an interviewing strategy, it is important to recognize that an employment interview is a two-way discussion, and you should feel on equal footing with the employer. Your responses will be much better if you act on this premise. Being defensive and subordinate will not enhance your bargaining position.
How, then, do you develop a frame of mind that enables you to have the confidence to do this ?. There are several things to realize :
a. The employer has a need to fill a position in order to make the organization function. The employer is going to considerable lengths to hire someone who can best fill that need and it's to the employer's benefit to hire. Presumably, it will cost the employer money if a good candidate is not hired. Thus, it is imperative for you to recognize that you can help the employer, given the opportunity.
b. You have made a considerable investment already in preparing for employment. For example, you have spent at least 16 years of your life getting an education so that you can be productive as an employee. You have taken specialized courses to help you produce for the employer. You have made a tremendous financial investment in preparing for this employment. That is no small contribution. You are prepared to put all of your education, experience and know-how into the job. Just as the employer will make a significant contribution to your well being, so too, will you be contributing to your employer's success and accomplishments.
c. Remember that the interviewer will do all he or she can to make the job opportunity as attractive as possible should you be the desired candidate for employment. By the same token you must make sure all your positive points are well known so the employer can evaluate you in the best light possible. You must also collect all the information you can about the employer to help yourself match your qualifications with the needs of the employer and to help yourself make a decision should an offer be extended.
d. Above all, think positively when going into the interview.
2. Be Prepared
If you are planning on entering a job interview without a great deal of preparation, you are selling yourself short. There are some who can "wing it" but most of us add to our competitive edge by doing homework before the interview.
The ultimate goal of an effective job campaign is landing a position that matches your likes and interests. The objective of the interview is to provide a mutual understanding between you and the employer which is the main vehicle for the job offer.
Interviews vary depending upon the interviewer and the stage of development in your job campaign. For example, the first interview may be a screening session, so an initial applicant pool of many prospects is screened to a desired few. This is usually accomplished by a member of the employer's personnel department, especially if you are a walk-in candidate. Or this task may be completed at a campus placement office. Sometimes, if you represent a specialized discipline such as accounting or engineering, the initial interview will be conducted by an accountant or engineer.
Usually, the next interview is performed with staff from the employing department, normally at the site of the employer's choosing. This is often referred to as an on-site or plant interview. When you go to an interview, remember the following tips :
a. Always take resumes with you when you have an interview, just in case the person talking with you does not have one. At the plant visitation, you may have several interviews with numerous individuals or groups of employers. Be prepared to take psychological tests during these visits, if the employer resorts to such selection techniques.
b. When preparing for the interview, be sure to check all available materials you can obtain on the employer - the annual report, brochures on the product line, locations of facilities, profitability, organizational structure, etc. If you have an opportunity to know the selection criteria before the interview, and this information is frequently made available by the employer in their advertisements and job descriptions, study them carefully to organize your presentation. If you can talk with some current employee of the organization beforehand, this could also be helpful.
c. Be properly groomed. Make sure your clothing is consistent with the general attire of employees working for the organization. Good personal hygiene is an absolute.
d. If you have to present any materials in the interview, be sure they are professionally prepared and presented in an attractive manner.
e. Arrive on time. Allow for possible parking problem. Do not arrive a half hour early - five minutes before interview time is about right. Ia a restroom is nearby, check your attire and grooming beforehand.
f. If the interview takes place at lunch or dinner, avoid alcoholic beverages and smoking as a general rule.
3. Be Smart
A great deal of effort goes into the job hunt - preparing the resume, networking, researching, letter writing - but nothing is as important as the interview. This is where the decision is made to hire you. Many people put considerable energy into the job search factors mentioned above but not enough thought and effort into the interview itself.
You can improve your interviewing skills with practice and by using some common sense "smarts". There are a few key points to remember :
a. Relax. Avoid last minute rushes. Advance preparation breeds confidence. After having a few interview, you will soon feel more at ease and confident.
b. Be yourself. Trying to put on a false face during the interview won't work. You will also feel more comfortable answering questions when you are honest and sincere in your responses. To have a "canned" response to certain questions can only backfire in the long run.
c. Market yourself. All of your responses should relate your qualifications to the job available. Fifty percent of the conversation should be yours. Do not reluctant to initiate subjects that will enhance your chances.
d. prepare for the interview by knowing what your responses will be to certain questions. Also, identify questions you will want to ask. Build a bridge between the job and you.
e. Avoid controversial subjects. Don't belabor a cause in which you may have an interest if it doesn't fit into the flow of the interview.
f. Be sure all of your good qualities are known before you end the interview. Some interviewers miss important qualifications in a candidate and it behooves you to make sure that doesn't happen. Have your accomplishments firmly in mind before the interview so you can relate them to the job.
g. Don't speak negatively about your peers, former employers, faculty or other employers. Keep an upbeat and positive approach to all you say in the interview.
h. End the interview with a course of action. Make sure you have closure. This can be when next the interviewer will contact you, when the interviewer will arrange an on-site visit, even rejection. Also, be sure you know what your next step is and when you are to take a certain course of action. In short, summarize what you and the interviewer have decided.
4. Be Careful
The results of an interview are predicated on more than an exchange of words. For example, what you say is important, but how you say it can be equally important. Do you show enthusiasm, energy and interest ?. These can be shown in how you respond to a question as well as what your words are. Your attire, grooming, cleanliness, body languange, posture, walk, handshake, eye-to-eye contact, choice of words, speech characteristics, breath, cooperativeness, courtesies you extend, ad infinitum - all go into the hopper before you land a job.
Interviewers not only seek to hire people, they also screen out candidates. Exclusive of all your skills, education and experience, negative factors that will screen you out of a job are :
- Poor appearance
- Poor attitude
- Indications of dishonesty
- Bad-mouthing others
- Lack of enthusiasm
- Excessive aggressiveness
- Suspected instability
- Body odor
- Questionable eating or drinking habits
- Indications of lack of dependability
Do all recruiters put the same value on these factors ?. No, it varies with the person. You can reduce the wash-out risk by avoiding the above during the interview. Many interviewers put more emphasis on screening out candidates than screening in, so avoid those factors likely to eliminate you - and thereby enhance your chances of getting hired.